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New Form Of Mastitis

June 26, 2006

New Form Of Mastitis May Have Adverse Financial Effect On Farmers

Mastitis is of major economic concern to dairy farmers, but if more serious forms of the illness become common the financial effects could be far worse.

One of the challenges farmers may face in the future is coliform mastitis. As farming practices move towards to more Northern Hemisphere methods – including the use of feed pads, indoor housing and supplementary feeds – the risk of coliform mastitis increases.

Coliform mastitis, a more acute form of mastitis caused by the E.coli bacteria, can seriously affect a cow's milk production levels, even more so than more common forms of mastitis.

A new product, 'Cobactan' is the only treatment in New Zealand designed specifically to treat the E.coli bacteria. While it is useful for other conditions, such as respiratory disease, calf septicaemia, lameness due to footrot and diseases affecting pigs, Cobactan's main strength is treating coliform mastitis.

Introduced at the DCV Conference in Napier at the end of June by animal health company Intervet, Cobactan is available in intramammary and injectable systemic treatments. It is a prescription product only available through veterinarians.

Intervet dairy business manager David McDonnell says results from a study by Shpigel et. al. (1997) clearly showed the importance of a quick and efficient treatment in cases of coliform mastitis. Treatment with Cobactan achieved faster improvements to the cow's overall health and returns to milk production compared to controls of a standard intramammary treatment.

In a New Zealand trial three years ago where there was an outbreak of coliform mastitis, the milk yield of some of the cows that contracted the disease dropped by 50 per cent and wasn't regained for the rest of lactation.

The onset of coliform mastitis tends to be sudden and develops rapidly, with some animals showing a high fever and a swollen, painful quarter. Loss of appetite, dehydration and muscle weakness are other possible symptoms. If not treated appropriately coliform mastitis can result in the cow's death.

McDonnell says in acute cases, results suggest the combination of both intramammary and systemic treatment is likely to achieve rapid tissue penetration of the Cobactan in all regions of the udder within two hours.

The annual cost of mastitis in New Zealand herds varies according to the level of clinical and subclinical mastitis. But according to the National Mastitis Advisory Committee a herd with a seasonal average BMSCC (bulk milk somatic cell count) of 250,000 cells/ml is likely to be losing about $30 per cow ($6000 for an average size herd).

When calculating the cost of mastitis a number of factors are considered, including loss of production, discarded milk, the cost of treatment, deaths from mastitis, milk quality penalties, time, stress on the farmer, replacement costs and premature culling.

McDonnell says dairy farmers will be pleased to know the new premier product Cobactan is now available from their vets.

"Cows are live assets walking around the paddock and farmers want to keep those assets on their feet. When an animal is acutely sick, the farmer obviously will want them to be treated with the most efficient product on the market. Cobactan has a very strong reputation globally, one that I'm sure will grow quickly here in New Zealand."


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